The war in Ukraine is a fast-changing affair, but one event from two days ago has already spawn a meme that has folklore scholars (like my friend Sabina Magliocco) shouting, “Folklore rules.
It started with a video (there are two versions) of a confrontation between a Ukranian woman and a Russian soldier in or near the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson.
She starts right out with “What the fuck are you doing here?”
The soldier tries to downplay it, saying that he is part of an “exercise.” She won’t have it. And she death-curses him, telling him, “You’re occupants, you’re fascists! What the fuck are you doing on our land with all those guns? Take these seeds and put them in your pockets, so at least sunflowers will grow when you all lie down here.” (Sunflowers are a national symbol in Ukraine and quite popular in decorative arts.)
Shortly after, there were other versions, such as this:
This conflict has no common name yet, but some are already calling it The Sunflower War.
Only hours later, Sabina Magliocco posted on Facebook a new meme, for magical work against President Putin. On it, the words of the curse:There you are, war and magic at the speed of social media. But there might be more to say about putting your magical intentions out on the internet. I will have more to say about that in a short time.
The Materiality of Magic is an exciting new book about an aspect of magic that is usually neglected. In the last two decades we have had many books and proceedings of conferences on the concept of magic itself as well as its history, formulas and incantations in antiquity, both in East and West. Much less attention, however, has been paid to the material that was used by the magicians for their conjuring activities. This is the first book of its kind that focuses on the material aspects of magic, such as amulets, drawings, figurines, gems, grimoires, rings, and voodoo dolls. The practice of magic required a specialist expertise that knew how to handle material such as lead, gold, stones, papyrus and terra cotta—material that sometimes was used for specific genres of magic. That is why we present in this well illustrated collection of studies new insights on the materiality of magic in antiquity by studying both the materials used for magic as well as the books in which the expertise was preserved. The main focus of the book is on antiquity, but we complement and contrast our material with examples ranging from the Ancient Near East, via early modern Europe, to the present time.
The Athenian disease began south of Egypt in a region Thucydides called “Aethiopia,” a term that ancient Greeks used to refer to regions in sub-Saharan Africa, where modern Ebola outbreaks have occurred.
• Etsy follows eBay in forbidding the sale of spell kits and the like. (What about rosaries?) I heard a brief slow-pitch interview with founder Etsy Rob Kalin this morning on NPR’s Morning Edition. (NPR loves Etsy — just do a site search.) Kalin walzed around the issue of Etsy allowing factory-made items — apparently OK if it is small factory — and the interviewer did not mention magic.